Pure artisanal chocolate, with 70-100% cocoa, from cocoa beans from Ghana and cocoa sorbet to bars sold by weight, salami chocolate-biscuit cake and brownies, has arrived at the Time Out Market. The world’s best chocolate is now on sale at the newly opened Bettina Corallo shop.The success of the chocolate produced by the Corallo family cannot be explained by mere luck – it is the fruit of many years of work and experience in the field that led to a perfect product. The story started a long, long time ago in a far-off country. At the beginning there was coffee. When she was still a little girl, Elizabete Martins (‘Bettina’) of Portugal went with her parents to live in what was then Zaire, where she later met her future husband, an Italian called Claudio Corallo. Together they worked on plantations of robusta coffee. They ended up buying a 1,250-hectare plantation where they produced very special coffee – whose whole crop was reserved by clients long before it left the country. In 1992 they left Zaire and went to live in Florence, Italy, setting up a company that roasted robusta and arabica coffee from Bolivia. In 1995 they decided to go and live in São Tomé, where they won the concession to take over some abandoned cocoa plots – clearing them from one end to the other before planting them with an old variety of cocoa seeds. That was how the family’s adventure in cocoa began; they are still there but now with three children. In 2008, having moved to Portugal, they opened the first Corallo shop in the Príncipe Real neighbourhood, where they stocked only chocolate from São Tomé e Príncipe. Since then Corallo chocolate has become the top choice of many locals. It was nothing like what people in Portugal were used to: with less sugar, with no lecithin or vanilla, it was pure artisanal chocolate. But as with any other great product, many Portuguese recognised its quality and became faithful customers. Later, still in Príncipe Real, Bettina opened another shop (while closing the first one) in her own name and that of her children, where she serves great coffee and a new line of chocolates made from cocoa from places such as Bolivia, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, and Ghana, where the cocoa beans come from.
“It is not its origin that defines whether chocolate is good or not,” says Bettina. “The secret of good chocolate is in the conjugation of various factors such as having a good range of varieties, a good terroir and the type of treatment that you give the cocoa.”Not only is the chocolate is top quality: the other ingredients that are combined with some chocolates also follow the same philosophy. For example, the flor de sal fine salt crystals comes from Castro Marim in the Algarve, the orange comes from Calabria and the hazelnuts from Piedmont. Many other ingredients are also paired with the chocolate that is prepared very day in the shop, such as ginger, sesame seed, fresh cherries, sugar crystals and coffee.In the second shop that she has now opened in the Time Out Market, Bettina has a showcase for the purest of artisanal chocolate in different formats, all made with the same expertise and dedication that customers in Príncipe Real have become used to.